Arctic "death spiral" actually more like "zombie ice"

From the AGU Journal Highlights, some news that NSIDC’s “death spiral” has zombie like characteristics, and that the ice may quickly return from the dead, even if the Arctic turned ice free during summer. Nature is more resilient it seems, than some people give it credit for.

What an ice free Arctic might look like from space

No tipping point for Arctic Ocean ice, study says

Declines in the summer sea ice extent have led to concerns within the scientific community that the Arctic Ocean may be nearing a tipping point, beyond which the sea ice cap could not recover. In such a scenario, greenhouse gases in the atmosphere trap outgoing radiation, and as the Sun beats down 24 hours a day during the Arctic summer, temperatures rise and melt what remains of the polar sea ice cap. The Arctic Ocean, now less reflective, would absorb more of the Sun’s warmth, a feedback loop that would keep the ocean ice free.

However, new research by Tietsche et al. suggests that even if the Arctic Ocean sees an ice-free summer, it would not lead to catastrophic runaway ice melt.

The researchers, using a general circulation model of the global ocean and the atmosphere, find that Arctic sea ice recovers within 2 years of an imposed ice-free summer to the conditions dictated by general climate conditions during that time. Furthermore, they find that this quick recovery occurs whether the ice-free summer is triggered in 2000 or in 2060, when global temperatures are predicted to be 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer.

During the long polar winter the lack of an insulating ice sheet allows heat absorbed by the ocean during the summer to be released into the lower atmosphere. The authors find that increased atmospheric temperatures lead to more energy loss from the top of the atmosphere as well as a decrease in heat transport into the Arctic from lower latitudes. So the absence of summer sea ice, while leading to an increase in summer surface temperatures through the ice-albedo feedback loop, is also responsible for increased winter cooling. The result is a swift recovery of the Arctic summer sea ice cover from the imposed ice-free state.

Title:

“Recovery mechanisms of Arctic summer sea ice”

Authors:

S. Tietsche, D. Notz, J. H. Jungclaus, and J. Marotzke
Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Hamburg, Germany

Source:

Geophysical Research Letters (GRL) paper 10.1029/2010GL045698, 2011

GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, VOL. 38, L02707, 4 PP., 2011

doi:10.1029/2010GL045698

Recovery mechanisms of Arctic summer sea ice

S. Tietsche, Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Hamburg, Germany

D. Notz, Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Hamburg, Germany

J. H. Jungclaus, Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Hamburg, Germany

J. Marotzke, Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Hamburg, Germany

We examine the recovery of Arctic sea ice from prescribed ice-free summer conditions in simulations of 21st century climate in an atmosphere–ocean general circulation model. We find that ice extent recovers typically within two years. The excess oceanic heat that had built up during the ice-free summer is rapidly returned to the atmosphere during the following autumn and winter, and then leaves the Arctic partly through increased longwave emission at the top of the atmosphere and partly through reduced atmospheric heat advection from lower latitudes. Oceanic heat transport does not contribute significantly to the loss of the excess heat. Our results suggest that anomalous loss of Arctic sea ice during a single summer is reversible, as the ice–albedo feedback is alleviated by large-scale recovery mechanisms. Hence, hysteretic threshold behavior (or a “tipping point”) is unlikely to occur during the decline of Arctic summer sea-ice cover in the 21st century.

=====================================================

This lends credence to this related story previously on WUWT:

New peer reviewed paper says “there appear to have been periods of ice free summers in the central Arctic Ocean” in the early Holocene, about 10-11,000 years ago

The full paper is here (PDF) backup location here Tietsche_GRL_2011

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Mike Jowsey

“hysteretic threshold behavior” – oooh, I like it. Could this be used by Josh?

PaulH

Yet another general circulation model? Hmmm…

dp

He said “model”. /snarky comments here/
Unless this model is able to deal with complex chaotic systems I’d have to consider it as useful as the much disdained climate models. Which leaves us with the question: What do observations tell us?
REPLY: See the related story at the bottom – Anthony

Jeff

ouch, reality bites back … another “reasonable” theory forgets to consider the entire system …

CRS, Dr.P.H.

So the absence of summer sea ice, while leading to an increase in summer surface temperatures through the ice-albedo feedback loop, is also responsible for increased winter cooling.
Don’t let Krugman, Gore, Page, McKinney, etc. know about this, they’ll think they are correct about AGW causing this winter’s snowstorms!!

Latitude

Now who would have thought that without a lid on it, more heat would escape….
..and that computer cost how much?

Schrodinger's Cat

I wonder if they started this to find the tipping point due to positive feedback and found enhanced negative feedback instead. Damn, there goes next year’s funding.
This really underlines the fact that nature has lots of defensive tricks. The only downside is that the conclusion came from one of these admired and trusted GCMs….

DJ

One argument frequently made is that as the ice decreases, so goes the albedo, and this accelerates the warming.
One argument I do not see is that same effect being applied to the huge non-arctic areas covered in snow during these winter blizzards we’ve been enjoying. Whether 13mm 130m thick, the albedo is the same, and however relatively brief, it has a feedback effect.
Is that in the GCM’s?? I’m doubtful.

Martin C

Although I don’t always put a lot of faith in the models in predicting how the climate itself may change, this is a bit more interesting to me. They were comparing the results using todays temperatures with 2 degrees C higher temperatures (in 2 model runs).
So even if the model isn’t duplicating ALL the ‘nuances’ of the atmosphere, it is doing the same thing in both cases. And it gives results that, frankly, aren’t really surprising to me (based on all I have read about the arctic, other periods of low ice or ice free, etc. ) .

KR

From http://meetingorganizer.copernicus.org/EGU2009/EGU2009-8882.pdf
Future recovery of summer Arctic sea ice loss
S. Tietsche, D. Notz, W. Müller, J. Jungclaus, and J. Marotzke
During the 21st century, the Arctic Ocean will very likely experience a transition from perennial to seasonal sea ice cover owing to anthropogenic climate change. Will this transition be gradual, or is there a critical threshold for the summer sea ice extent, below which the ice-albedo feedback inhibits the recovery of summer sea ice?
We examine this question using the global atmosphere-sea-ice-ocean model ECHAM5/MPI-OM. For the IPCC emission scenario A1B, the model predicts that the Arctic Ocean is essentially ice-free in September from the 2070s on. For the transition time period before that, we perform a series of experiments for which we artificially remove the Arctic sea ice in one summer, analyzing the changed ice cover in the following years.
First results indicate that, for the climate of the first half of the 21st century, Arctic sea ice recovers from summer ice-free conditions within a year. We investigate the mechanisms that mitigate the ice-albedo feedback and restore the state of the summer sea ice. We do not find a ‘tipping point’ for climate states with small Arctic sea ice caps. Hence, a smooth transition from perennial to seasonal Arctic sea ice cover can be expected.”

So the decline of the ice cap will be gradual, not sudden? And we might have ice up through 2070? Good to hear.

Phil.

Our results suggest that anomalous loss of Arctic sea ice during a single summer is reversible, as the ice–albedo feedback is alleviated by large-scale recovery mechanisms.
However that wouldn’t necessarily be the case in a response to a steady decline in sea ice if conditions are consistently changing.

Joe LaVigna

It appears that the hysterical behavior of some scientists over the possible hysteretic threshold behavior of polar ice is a waste of “scientific” energy that we could all wish was conserved. The calm and thorough work of the scientists at Max Planck is warmly welcomed.

Compare their model predictions with projections based on a statistical model of area data. http://www.kidswincom.net/arcticseaice.pdf. Place your bets and enjoy.

Claude Harvey

The ice cores document that the earth’s climate is a self-regulating, chaotic system in which temperature oscillates in approximately 100,000 year cycles between self-limited upper and lower boundaries. Neither catastrophic meteor strikes nor cataclysmic volcanic eruptions made any noticeable dent in that monotonous cycle.
Of course the arctic sea ice is self-regulating! Of course man-mad “tipping points” are absurd. The obvious mystery is why, in view of documented climatic history, anyone would believe a quarter-inch, man-made, CO2 tail (by volume) could wag a one-hundred-yard-long atmospheric dog?

George E. Smith

Well there’s that “model” word again. Well without models we would just have to sit and wait it out to watch it become ice free.
Actually, I’m less put off by a Teracomputer model of an ice free arctic. I could swear that in that photograph of the last time the arctic was ice free, that virtually ALL of the surrounding lands in that ice free ocean are actually completely inundated with ice; well snow anyway.
And that’s about what my 1/4 byte stick in the sand computer says would happen. Lots of open sea to evaporate; after all they did say it would get hot due to all the absorbed sunlight; “beating down on it” I believe is what they said.
I can just picture the sun beating down on the north pole; and never ever getting above 23 1/2 deg altitude. By my calculations the path from sun to pole is always longer than Air Mass 2.5. Yeah the sun really gets unbearable after going through that much air.
But to get serious; I think this is a useful study. A much simpler system, than the whole kit and caboodle, so the model could be much more lifelike; you know like Mother gaia’s model.
I’ll have to digest this one; looks like it might be a keeper.
On one foolish excursion over there at c-r I did happen to catch a post wherein Peter Humbug said he had removed all the H2O from the atmosphere; and then let her rip, with all that CO2 there to globally warm by itself. He said he got ALL of the H2O back in the atmosphere within three months.
If I mistook you there Peter; my apologies; only question is, did you happen to drop the whole surface Temp to zero deg C as well, which would have helped you tweezer out those last pesky H2O molecules. If you haven’t done that; give it a whirl and let us know what you find. My 1/4 byte stickputer says you still get it all back quickly.
That water/cloud feedback is a flaming nuisance to established science.

richard verney

Greenland has been considerably warmer than it presently is. This warmer period must have had an effect on the extenmt of Artic ice. Presumably during the Roman Warm Period, Medieval Warm period etc, the summer Aartic ice extent would have been far less, indeed the Artic might well have been ice free during summer. Yet we know as fact that no tipping point was reached during those warm periods and that Artic ice recovered as conclusively proved by the fact that during the current period in which we live in the Artic still possess summer ice.

Phil,
Conditions are always changing. The takeaway from the study is that the equilibrium state for the Arctic is to have ice, even if the temperature was higher than it is now. That the ice is undergoing lots variation at the moment only means only that. If there was 100 years of satellite data the amount of worry would be much less.

Let’s say the arctic ice caps melts, what is the worst that can happen? Ice that is already in the ocean won’t rise the sea level, so what’s the alleged problem?

MarkW

I vaguely remember a study from a few years back that found that as sea ice decreased, evaporation from the polar seas resulted in an increase in low level clouds, which in turn bounced a lot of sunlight back into space.

olsthro

Love this Quote Claude Harvey,
“The obvious mystery is why, in view of documented climatic history, anyone would believe a quarter-inch, man-made, CO2 tail (by volume) could wag a one-hundred-yard-long atmospheric dog?”
Good one!

coaldust

They need a model to tell them that less ice in the winter means greater outgoing radiation? ? ???? ? Really???????

PJB

I can only imagine the faucets in the houses of AGW modellers. C and H could be on either side. Additional faucets for CW and WC are “de rigeur” and then you cannot actually use them, you have to apply for a grant and then simulate their activity…
/sarcoff

a reader

Ju. P. Doronin determined this in 1968 in his paper “On the problem of iradicating the Arctic ice” in “Probl. Arkt. Antarkt.”, 28, 21-8. As sourced by H. Lamb in vol. 1 of “Climate: Present, Past and Future.” p. 339

James Sexton

Funny, my model says ice will form in sub-freezing waters, too. Weird…….

higley7

“the Sun beats down 24 hours a day during the Arctic summer, temperatures rise and melt what remains of the polar sea ice cap.”
I have trouble with this. The Sun is at a max angle of 23.4 degrees at peak summer and at that time solar energy is 20% of direct vertical Sun (and on average only half of this during the summer) and only 17% of that due to absorption through the long path length through the atmosphere. That’s 3.4% of the normal solar energy of 1370 W/ sq m or about 80–48 W/ Sq m (half of this on average, 40–24 W/sq m). This is the Sun BEATING DOWN(?) 24 hours a day? This is not a significant energy input and any energy absorbed by the water would be lost as evaporative heat loss in seconds.
And let’s not forget that the reflection of light off water increases as the angle decreases. So, we are also being generous with the absorption versus reflection. Most melting that occurs in the Arctic is from warm air and water from the South. Solar input is pathetic and obviously much over-rated by the alarmists.
Where do they get the opinion that the Arctic summer is warm? It’s certainly not!
You could say that the average energy is less than half of the peak 80–48 W/sq m because, as the Sun’s angle goes even lower, the absorption and spreading of the energy increases nonlinearly. I would put the average, generously, at 27–18W/sq m (2.0–1.3% of normal, we get more on a cloudy day). This will make no difference to the Arctic climate compared to incoming weather effects.
This is also neglecting immediate losses of energy to space. Losses to space during the dark Arctic winter are obviously the dominant (only) effect with warmer air sucked northward as dense, cold Arctic air masses descend towards the equator due to the Earth’s rotation.

David Larsen

Homeostatis – the tendency of a system taken from its natural state to return back to its natural state. Carbon and oxygen are lagging indicators from when the sun overheats the surface and those levels increase. As the sun decreases so do the levels of those trace elements. The sun decreases in output and ice increases. Isn’t it amazing?

Olavi

Climate research can do very peculiar observations and conclusions, however in my lifetime we don’t see icefree arctic. In ten years from this day, they warn us from new ice age, because multiyear ice in arctic grows rapidly. Climatescience is mostly pseudoscience. HAH!

old44

MarkW says:
February 9, 2011 at 11:56 am
I vaguely remember a study from a few years back that found that as sea ice decreased, evaporation from the polar seas resulted in an increase in low level clouds, which in turn bounced a lot of sunlight back into space.
1st rule of AGW:
Only use the data that fits the theory, mate. Ignore the rest.

DesertYote

Schrodinger’s Cat says:
February 9, 2011 at 11:12 am
I wonder if they started this to find the tipping point due to positive feedback and found enhanced negative feedback instead. Damn, there goes next year’s funding.
This really underlines the fact that nature has lots of defensive tricks. The only downside is that the conclusion came from one of these admired and trusted GCMs….
###
No no no, you got it all wrong! The growing ice PROVES CAGW! You just have to compensate for the negative feedbacks interfering with the warming signal.

RACookPE1978

It appears this “climate model” – and certainly the CAGW propagandists “must agree” with a model’s impartial and always-accurate results! – tears down the (false) tipping theory so often claimed about the Arctic ice.
1) The model did not assume any cause for the initial cause of the Arctic ice melt: The programmers merely began with an ice-free Arctic, then let the simulation run.
2) The simulation (model, if you will) was run under today’s conditions at today’s temperatures. Then it was re-run starting at a +2 degree initial condition and run again. With the same results -> The Arctic froze up again, just as in the first model run. (I will argue that an assumed +2 degree temperature by mid-century in unlikely/unrealistic under ANY circumstance, but that is irrelevant to the model runs.
That said, but ….
However, why do they bring up a 24-hour solar exposure? That occurs ONLY during the very few mid-summer northern hemisphere weeks centered at 22 June. Since nobody in any CAGW group is claiming/forecasting that the mid-winter ice will disappear (today’s winter temperatures are -25 to -35 average), and since the maximum ice coverage is Feb-Mar-April-May, discussing a June 22 ice-free Arctic is absurd.
Arctic minimum ice conditions occur 3 months later, just days before the fall equinox of 22 Sept. Thus, when the Arctic has minimum ice, the Arctic is exposed to (at most) 12 hours of sun. And that sun is (at msot) between 20 degrees and 5 degrees above the horizon. (About 1/4 of the Arctic Ocean starts north of Greenland’s north coast at about 82 degrees, a little over half is at 70-72 degrees north (from about longitude 120 W all the around to about 135 East) and the rest is open ocean between Greenland and the Murmansk Peninsula. (Roughly speaking.)
Since the land area of Canada, Alaska, and North Russia/Siberia always thaws every summer, albedo changes can only depend on the freezing or not freezing of the thin band of water between the dark (thawed) land and the “white” sea ice of the Arctic north of that land-sea border. Supposedly.
But at an angle of incidence of less than 22 degrees, just how much incoming sunlight is actually absorbed by the ocean – if any is absorbed at all? The atmosphere between 70 north and 90 north absorbs even more heat from the sun: You can see that every night when a setting sun is “easy” to look directly into every evening at dusk, while intolerable between 9:00 am and 3:00 pm the same day with the same clouds and the same dust, but with a atmosphere layer smaller by the tangent of the sun’s angle.

Anything is possible

Great.
A group of scientists expend 2 or 3 years of valuable expertise and resources, which conclude by stating the bleeding obvious just to debunk another stupid warmist myth.
Little wonder that progress in better understanding the Earth’s climate system has slowed to a snails’ pace……….

tty

Phil. says:
February 9, 2011 at 11:27 am
Our results suggest that anomalous loss of Arctic sea ice during a single summer is reversible, as the ice–albedo feedback is alleviated by large-scale recovery mechanisms.
However that wouldn’t necessarily be the case in a response to a steady decline in sea ice if conditions are consistently changing.

Every summer since the sixteenth century (we don’t have reliable data further back) all ice in the Baltic has melted and the water has warmed up to bathing temperatures in the shallows. Every winter the water cools and the ice comes back. Judging from the fact that the Harbor Seal that depends on ice for pupping has survived since the Early Holocene there hasn’t been any long ice-free periods for at least several thousand years.
And lest somebody claim that it would be different in a deeper and saltier sea, it works just the same in the Okhotsk sea, which is both deep and salty. And so does the sea-ice in Antarctica which also largely melts and reforms every year in even deeper and saltier waters.
The idea that sea-ice wouldn’t come back once it has melted is completely unrealistic, and could only be due to the fact that most “climate scientists” seem to be remarkably ignorant about actual conditions at high latitudes.

sHx

“Zombie ice”
I like it. May I run with it?
I think the outline of a new Arctic ice-water circulation model is emerging slowly from where it was buried in 2007.
In 2007, the CO2 plague (thought to be carried by humans) melted away much of the Arctic in a “death spiral” that was expected to last until all ice was dead sometime between 2013 to 2030.
However, unexpected good news came from Catlin Arctic survey in 2009, when the scientific expedition led by a team of dogs-and-sleds explorers (no dog was harmed during the expedition) encountered “rotten ice”. This was bitter-sweet news for the expedition which went on to be surround by a host of rotten ice, and had to be rescued by air-lift. The question then was whether the rotten ice was the remnant of the perfectly good ‘live ice’ or the making of something truly rotten.
Well, with these findings scientists’ fears have been realised. It has now emerged that much of the recovery from 2007 is due to rotten ice growing and turning into “zombie ice”, which is an entirely different kind of ice than the one it replaced.
The ice that melted as a result of the CO2 plague was alive and it helped cool the planet. What effect ‘zombie ice’ will have on climate and biosphere is still unknown. It is suspected that ‘rotten ice’ may go through a process of purification in Arctic waters until it becomes alive again, but such a mechanism is poorly understood and is yet to be established. More research will be needed.
The Arctic ice-water circulation model:
Live Ice=> Death Spiral=> Rotten Ice=> Zombie Ice=> Purification?=> Live Ice
Do I need to add /sarc off to this?

AJB

Claude Harvey says February 9, 2011 at 11:37 am

The obvious mystery is why, in view of documented climatic history, anyone would believe a quarter-inch, man-made, CO2 tail (by volume) could wag a one-hundred-yard-long atmospheric dog?

But if you stuff it in a half-baked media bun and pour cheap red political ketchup all over it, there’s no mystery about folk finally chucking up after swallowing the tale. Frozen dough gets ’em every time.

FerdinandAkin


lack of an insulating ice sheet allows heat absorbed by the ocean during the summer to be released …

Who would have thought that lack of insulation would increase blackbody radiation?
It seems the proponents of Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming will spare no effort to catalog sources of heat, but are casual in identifying the sinks. One can draw a conclusion about agenda driven research verses pure scientific research.

Thanks for highlighting this story, Anthony.
If anyone s interested, here was our take on it over a World Climate Rerport:
Arctic Ice “Tipping Point” Rejected.
Seems an Arctic ice tipping point is a favorite story of John Holdren.
-Chip

commieBob

MarkW says:
February 9, 2011 at 11:56 am
I vaguely remember a study from a few years back that found that as sea ice decreased, evaporation from the polar seas resulted in an increase in low level clouds, which in turn bounced a lot of sunlight back into space.

The evaporation and resulting fog/clouds really throw a spanner into the works. Evaporation removes a lot of heat from the ocean. The fog/clouds reflect heat back to space but they also act as insulation. I haven’t seen a trustworthy paper that describes this yet. I would dearly love to see someone actually try to measure the heat flux.
I remember looking out over the frozen arctic ocean and seeing a fog bank rising straight up thousands of feet into the sky. I had never seen anything like it. The met tech explained that it was caused by a patch of open water.
There are one or two scientists whose judgment I trust when it comes to things arctic. The rest only spend relatively brief periods if they go there at all. It is really easy to concoct plausible sounding theories from the comfort of a desk down south but if you’ve never spent whole years up north, you won’t have a working BS filter based on lived reality. My favorite example is the number of people who seem to think that the arctic sea ice melts from the top down. That’s simply not true. By the time you see puddles, the ice is 1/10 as thick (or less) as it was when the sun came up. If you haven’t spent time up north actually measuring ice thickness by boring holes, you won’t know that and your theories will be bunk.
My other favorite example of scientific cluelessness: Talk to an Eskimo (I’m being deliberately non-PC, they prefer to be called Inuit) about polar bears. You won’t get the same story you get from the scientists. I’m betting the indigenous are right and the scientists are wrong. </rant> (but I could go on)

eadler

It should be noted that the absence of a “tipping point” , in which a loss of sea in a single summer, would cause permanent disappearance of the ice, independent of climate trends, does not imply that ice free summers in the Arctic will not happen. According to the Science Daily news story on the article, where the authors were interviewed:
The researchers underline that their results do not question the dramatic loss of Arctic sea ice or its relation to anthropogenic climate change. “If we don’t slow down global warming extensively, we will lose the summer sea-ice cover in the Arctic within a few decades,” says Tietsche. “Our research shows that the speed of sea-ice loss is closely coupled to the speed of global warming. We think that it’s important to know that we can still do something about slowing down or possibly even stopping the loss of the sea-ice cover.”
The authors are saying that if the earth gets cooler, the summer arctic sea ice will reappear. They are not saying it won’t disappear if the climate gets warmer.

Dave Springer

Climate boffins never seem to think these things through. There is practically no sun during the arctic winter and because of the high angle of incidence not much in the summer either. As well, water reflects sunlight quite well at high angles of incidence. So the bottom line is albedo doesn’t mean a whole lot above the arctic circle.
What DOES matter a lot is that ice is a decent insulator and prevents the liquid ocean underneath from cooling by radiation and convection. So the positive feedback that the climate boffins imagine is actually a negative feedback. That should sound familiar. They imagine that surface heating caused by increased CO2 has a positive feedback effect through the creation of more water vapor while that too is actually a negative feedback due to increased evaporation, convection of the energy upwards in latent heat of vaporization, and release at altitude when a cloud forms which the raises albedo in lower latitudes where albedo really matters a lot.
These runaway warming narratives get tiring and make one wonder how these people ever passed any kind of physical science course in their sorry lives.

Basically they found out that open water freezes in dark and -30°C.

wws

real talk translation of this story: Hey, you know that stupid, made up thing that’s never going to happen? Just in case it somehow does happen don’t worry about it because that entire idea of a “tipping point” is just another stupid, made up thing that’s never going to happen.

While being quite ignorant of the details, this is something I have been saying ever since someone here (much more knowledgeable than myself) pointed out the possibility.
What I find ridiculous is that the idea makes so much sense, and yet the warmists have completely ignored the possibility as it does not ‘feed their monster’.

roger

Spare a thought for the aide that has to pass on this information to the hitherto misinformed Prince Charles. This will only serve to reinforce his misgivings over the likely outcome of his five year prognosis.
A lesson in the venality of grant chasing scientists, politicians and sycophantic courtiers and advisors. At his age the lesson should however have been unnecessary.

Joe Lalonde

Anthony,
In the whole history of this planet, has it ever overheated to what these guys are exaggerating too?
I do have to give credit to a very active imagination through the whole climate science community. Unfortunately, they also effect government policies.

Dennis

An ice-free arctic will absorb so much more sunlight in the winter. Oh…there is no sunlight in the winter. Well, maybe the lost energy will keep the Arctic ice-free all the time.

Latitude

Doesn’t an ice free Arctic summer….
…mean the weather is improving

Dave Springer

I was going to comment that lack of arctic ice has exactly the opposite effect – a negative feedback.
1. open water reflectance increases as the angle of incidence decreases – the arctic sun is low in the sky to begin with and what little sunlight is left in the winter is reflected just as well off water as off of ice
2. there is very little sun above the arctic circle to reflect in the first place, even in the summer, and in the winter it diminishes to near zero insolation so between this and high reflectance at low angle of incidence albedo really doesn’t mean much near and above the arctic circle
3. ice is a good insulator and when it covers a body of water it prevents that body of water from giving up heat by radiation and reflection. In the arctic winter if there’s no ice that water will be cooling down like a mofo and there won’t be no ice for very long.
In short, arctic ice melt has a negative feedback with it that limits further ice melt. That’s a contributing factor for why the earth has gone through many ice ages but has never experienced a runaway greenhouse in all its billions of years of history.
This narrative about positive feedbacks from the climate boffins is a familiar refrain. A higher level of CO2 in and of itselt does nothing but add a small amount of very beneficial warming – extending growing seasons, making plants grow faster, and use less water while they’re doing it. Everyone knows this so so the climate boffins invented a positive feedback where more CO2 makes it a little warmer and the little more warmth puts more water vapor into the atmosphere which makes it warmer still and starts a runaway greenhouse. This simply doesn’t happen in the real world, has never happened, and never will happen so long as the earth remains a water world. Increased warmth results in increased evaporation which convection carries upward along with a huge amount of latent heat of vaporization. Adiabatic lapse rate causes the water vapor to condense a thousand or more feet above the ground where it releases all that heat upon condensation. The heat is thus swiftly removed from the surface and carried upward where it has an easier path out to the cold of space. Adding negative feedback upon negative feedback when the heat is released by condensation a cloud is formed and if it’s during the daytime (clouds tend to form in the afternoon which is why afternoon/evening thunderstorms are the strongest and most frequent) the cloud is highly reflective and blocks the strong afternoon sunlight from ever reaching the surface.
Higher atmospheric CO2 is actually a great benefit so when it comes to fossil fuels – burn baby burn!

Tenuc

Models are useless to confirm or refute an hypothesis as they do not have predictive power and do not take into account how the climate mechanisms change when the Earth has a surplus or lack of energy.
Worryingly the Earth seems to dispose of surplus energy easily via heat transport from equator to poles, but is not good at conserving energy at times of scarcity. It seems in this case it can only maintain temperatures suitable for life by sacrificing territory to extra polar ice, particularly in the NH. That’s why ice-ages are common events and warm climate optimums are relatively rare.
Here’s hoping the sun decides to wake up soon!

Dave Springer

corrections added:
I was going to comment that lack of arctic ice has exactly the opposite effect – a negative feedback. But others already did so the points are repetitious but they deserve repeating.
1. open water reflectance increases as the angle of incidence decreases – the arctic sun is low in the sky to begin with and what little sunlight is left in the winter is reflected just as well off water as off of ice
2. there is very little sun above the arctic circle to reflect in the first place, even in the summer, and in the winter it diminishes to near zero insolation so between this and high reflectance at low angle of incidence albedo really doesn’t mean much near and above the arctic circle
3. ice is a good insulator and when it covers a body of water it prevents that body of water from giving up heat by radiation, evaporation, and convection. In the arctic winter if there’s no ice that water will be cooling down like a mofo and there won’t be no ice for very long.
In short, arctic ice melt has a negative feedback with it that limits further ice melt. That’s a contributing factor for why the earth has gone through many ice ages but has never experienced a runaway greenhouse in all its billions of years of history.
This narrative about positive feedbacks associated with arctic ice melt is a familiar refrain from the climate boffins. A higher level of CO2 in and of itselt does nothing but add a small amount of very beneficial surface warming – extending growing seasons, making plants grow faster, and use less water while they’re doing it. Everyone knows this so the climate boffins invented a positive feedback where more CO2 makes it a little warmer and the little more warmth puts more water vapor into the atmosphere which makes it warmer still and starts a runaway greenhouse. This simply doesn’t happen in the real world, has never happened, and never will happen so long as the earth remains a water world. Increased warmth results in increased evaporation which convection carries upward along with a huge amount of what’s called latent heat of vaporization. Latent means it won’t register on a thermometer. Adiabatic lapse rate causes the water vapor to condense a thousand or more feet above the ground where it releases all that latent heat upon condensation. The heat is thus swiftly removed from the surface and carried upward where it has an easier path out to the cold of space from the higher altitude. Adding negative feedback upon negative feedback when the heat is released by condensation a cloud is formed and if it’s during the daytime (clouds tend to form in the afternoon which is why afternoon/evening thunderstorms are the strongest and most frequent) the cloud is highly reflective and blocks the strong afternoon sunlight from ever reaching the surface.
Higher atmospheric CO2 is actually a great benefit so when it comes to fossil fuels – burn baby burn!

dbleader61

Claude Harvey says:
February 9, 2011 at 11:37 am
“….The obvious mystery is why, in view of documented climatic history, anyone would believe a quarter-inch, man-made, CO2 tail (by volume) could wag a one-hundred-yard-long atmospheric dog?”
Best anti AGW comment and analogy of the day.